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Disabled shoppers confront holiday shopping barriers
Date:12/19/2013

Before chestnuts roast on the fire and sugarplums dance in the dreams of youngsters, the holiday season elicits visions of crowded parking lots and malls overrun by shoppers while retailers try to keep up with the demand.

The conditions aren't ideal for anyone seeking the perfect gift, but a RutgersCamden marketing scholar says they are especially hard for an often overlooked population of consumers: those with disabilities.

"There's music and moving lights and large crowds and it's just difficult to maneuver anywhere," says Carol Kaufman-Scarborough, a professor of marketing at the Rutgers School of BusinessCamden. "So, the question becomes, are shoppers with disabilities being excluded because of the retail environment?"

Kaufman-Scarborough, who has been researching consumers with disabilities since 1995, says early consumer research failed to consider customers with mobility problems such as those forced to navigate busy stores in a wheelchair as well as people with hearing or sight impairments, and people with cognitive disabilities.

"We have this idealized viewpoint of consumer reality," she says. "But why should consumer research include only people who are not limited by disabilities? The result is excluding a large percentage of the consumer population. It was believed that these are people who don't get out and shop, or that there are too few customers with disabilities to make a difference. It's now swung the other way."

Kaufman-Scarborough recently presented her research on consumers with disabilities during the Vulnerable Consumers Seminar Series held at the University of Strathclyde in Glaskow, Scotland, in November.

The seminar was the fourth in a series of six sponsored by the United Kingdom's Economic and Social Research Council. It aims to promote dialogue and interchange between worldwide researchers, practitioners, and policy makers on the issue of consumer vulnerability and to creat
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Contact: Mike Sepanic
msepanic@camden.rutgers.edu
856-225-6026
Rutgers University
Source:Eurekalert

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